Perivleptos

Department Archive
Collection Byzantine Research Fund
Reference No. BRF/01/01/14/104
Level Item
Place Perivleptos Monastery
Mystras
Dates 1890?
Creator Weir Schultz, Mr Robert
Barnsley, Mr Sidney Howard
Scope and Content East elevation. This is a preliminary drawing. It is annotated in pencil.
Further information Mistras, one of the most important Medieval cities of Morea, lies four miles north-west of present-day Sparta in the summit of a Taygetos hill. The first building to be erected by William II Villehardouin, the Frankish Prince of Achaea in the location was the castle (1249). Soon, a settlement was established outside the citadel- most of the churches and chapels stand outside it too. After the recapture of Morea by the Byzantines in 1262 Mistras became the headquarters of the Byzantine general and, later, the seat of the Lakedaimonian bishopic. During the 14th c. it was the capital of the Despotate of Mistras and flourished under the Kantakouzenoi and the Palaiologoi reign until its fall to the Turks in 1460.

Perivleptos church lies on a rock at the south-east corner of the castle wall. It is a two-columned cross-in-square domed church with two small attached chapels on the east side. The church, which displays an interesting fusion of Greek and Constantinopolitan elements, was monastic: the tower-like building that strongly recalls in the upper parts the Pantanassa bell-tower is the refectory. The entrance to the church is from the east via a narrow corridor into the rock. A door on the west side of the building leads to the chapel of St Catherine (Hagia Aikaterine) built into the rock too. The three apses on the east side are polygonal, single-lobbed windows lit the central and the prothesis apses only. Two rosettes and a floral motif decorate the central apse. Two dentil courses just below the cornice on the east side enclose a course bordered by guilloche on the upper edge. Guilloche pattern decorates the base of the dome too. In 1714 donor Panagiotes Thebaios decorated at his expenses the monumental gate of the church in a similar style. Dentil courses, inserted glazed ceramic bowls and two blind half arches decorate the gables and the dome. The porch which originally stood on the south side was transformed into a narthex by the noble donor Leo Mauropapas.

The church is decorated with interesting sculpture: parts of the original iconostasis still survive in situ. Wall-paintings in large iconographical cycles cover the interior. Four different painters must have worked on the fresco decoration of the church which equals that of fourteenth-century Constantinopolitan monuments. Unfortunately, since there are no documentary sources linked directly to the Perivleptos church, the exact date of the monument remains obscure.